Plant of the day: dwarf brodiaea

In grassy meadows and along open hillsides, these low-growing flowers open their purple petals to the sun. Each plant has one or two medium-sized flowers that have the classic lily family form. Six gracefully pointed petals fade to white towards the center. Three flat, white, tongue-like spurs (which are actually sterile stamen called staminodia) sit at the base of alternating petals. These staminodia in turn alternate with an interior cluster of flat, fertile stamen dusted with yellow pollen, which at first look like a stout, three-sided pistil.  To see the actual pistil, you have to gently tug on the petals to draw the stamens apart.

The easiest way to tell this from similar species is that it is so low to the ground, with the flower only rising a few inches off the ground. It truly is Brodiaea terrestris.

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